Self-declared "empaths" are narcissistic individuals who trumpet their alleged hypersensitivity as a grandiose claim to uniqueness and victimhood. "Empath" is a nonsense label hyped online but with zero clinical significance. Everyone is possessed of empathy - even narcissists and psychopaths ("cold empathy"). Everyone is, therefore, an "empath"
Admittedly, there are Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs) around: their empathy is so extreme that it renders them "skinless": they cannot firewall others emotions and pain and gets flooded and dystegulated. But HSPs are extremely few and far between - not a dime a dozen. They are also utterly unlikely to expose themselves online: they tend to be inordinately introverted, schizoid, and avoidant.
HSP is not to be confused with the neurological condition Sensory Processing Sensitivity.
The online forums where self-styled "empaths" congregate are cesspools of malice and dysempathy, oneupmanship and spite, delusional fantasies and competitive, professional victimhood. Based on anecdotal observations only, most "empaths" strike me as collapsed or covert narcissists who had been out-narcissized and abused by overt narcissists. Their self-imputed "sensitivity" is merely a manifestation of narcissistic rage following a series of narcissistic injuries.
Gaslighting is often confused and conflated with dissociation, confabulation, and dissonances. I should have foreseen that when I borrowed the term and introduced it into wider discourse in the 1990s.
Gaslighting: a deliberate strategy of impairing the reality test of another person and rendering them dependent on the gaslighter for critical cognitive functions, usually to assert control for personal gain
Dissociation: persistent amnesiac gaps in memory which result in an incoherent and discontinuous sense of self and inconsistent or contradictory thoughts, emotions, and behaviors of the same individual.
Confabulation: ego-congruent attempts to create plausible - though often untrue - narratives to bridge over dissociative memory gaps.
Dissonance: holding two mutually exclusive and contradictory thoughts, emotions, and beliefs at the same time (example: love-hate ambivalence).